Knowing God Through Prayer

“The prayer of the upright pleases Him.” (Proverbs 15:8)

Among those who know of God, but do not know Him, there is a misrepresentation that He is remote, impersonal, and uninvolved in our daily lives. But the Scriptures revel that God has created humankind for a very personal relationship with Him. Prayer is a key way we engage in that relationship and talk to Him. And it is a persistent theme throughout the Word of God.

In the Garden, God met with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day where they could spend time together, sharing thoughts and feelings, similar to the way a good father makes time for his children as the day winds down. (Genesis 3:8).

This is a good time for a father to discover what kind of day his children have had. If they have problems, he can share his wisdom and provide help or offer a solution.

Just as good children are interested in spending time with their parents and benefiting from their wisdom, God’s children should be spending time with their Heavenly Father. Of course, He already knows what is on their minds even before we say, or ask anything.

He knows all things. But His openness to spend time with us, listening to our prayers is born out of His love and desire to have a real and vibrant relationship with us. He is ready to listen and to guide us, but we must first come to the Source of Life.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer” (I Peter 3:12). Awaiting and following some surgery, the church folk were praying for me. Some came by to do, some sent word they were, and the church e-mail requested people for their prayers. A number of things went through my mind. Thankfulness for such a family, of course, and being a teacher and frankly being a little bored since I felt pretty good, I also began to think of how the link between prayer and health has become a subject of scientific study. Studies show that prayer is effective whether you pray for your own healing or for someone else.

A survey conducted by the University of Rochester reports that 85% of Americans say that they have prayed for healing from a disease, and a CNN poll found that 82% of Americans believe that prayer can cure a serious illness. (Quantum Method)

Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiovascular specialist at Harvard Medical School has found that prayer leads to a relaxation response in the body that reduces anxiety, blood pressure and slows the heart rate. I still have his book that my youngest daughter, Sandy, gave me several years ago. ( whom I pray for her landing a new job position soon!)

A National Institute of Health study showed that those who pray regularly are 40% less likely to have high blood pressure. And a Dartmouth Medical School Study showed that those who prayed and underwent surgery were three times more likely to recover.

A study of children with asthma by the University of Cincinnati showed that those who prayed were less likely to exhibit severe symptoms, and a range of studies indicate that prayer strengthens the immune system and lessens the severity and frequency of a broad range of illnesses. (Huffington Post)

Although these studies were not necessarily measuring responses from believers in Jesus, they do reveal that we were created with the desire and need to commune with God, even if many of us only consider it in times of distress.

Many prayers in the Bible concern crying out to God in times of trouble. In Genesis 32:9-12, Jacob prays for protection when reuniting with his brother Esau.

In Psalm 86, David turns to God for support and strength when he is in distress. Many Psalms also record David’s crying out in repentance and confession. In Psalm 51, David asks for God’s forgiveness (probably following the death of the man he murdered by his command) and includes the tender words: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Daniel 9:4-19 relates Daniel’s prayer of repentance and his supplication and request, in which he seeks God’s compassion upon the city of Jerusalem and, by extension, the exiled people of Judea.

And although many believers avoid reciting prayers by rote, desiring sincere and original worship straight from the heart, Deuteronomy 26:5-10 may record the first standardized prayer in Judaism, not of petition but of praise and thanksgiving. Moses dictated it for the people before the priest when they presented the first fruits of the harvest.

What is Prayer?

“He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him” (Psalm 91:15).

Prayer is more than coming before God with a shopping list of requests that we wave in front of His superior being before swiftly making our exit.

The Hebrew word for prayer is tefilah, which encompasses petition, but also worship, thanksgiving, praise, confession, and communing.

At the root of tefilah is the word palal, which means to think, to judge, to differentiate, to clarify, and to decide.

Prayer, therefore, is an introspective process that helps us examine ourselves, judge situations, differentiate between right and wrong, clarify our relationship with God, and decide on a course of action.

Our lives are filled with bewildering situations for which we must find answers and choose a proper course of action. This is not easy in the midst of the constant clamor of electronic devices that stream information and entertainment to us with the force and noise of an ocean.

To receive our Father’s wisdom, it is important to find a place we can quiet our minds to hear His still small voice.

Only a regular pattern of prayer allows us to develop the ability to be in consistent communication with our Father in Heaven.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus the Messiah” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).